When most bands play their first show, they are (rightfully so) nervous. They don’t know if anyone will enjoy them, they have no fans there specifically for them, and money is scarce—so their equipment (and therefore their sound) isn’t always great. Of course, these normal problems didn’t seem relevant for the first public performance by ††† (Crosses), the side project of Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno. On January 31, they played a sold-out show at The Glass House in Pomona, something most bands wish they could say they’ve done.
The first act was called Secret Empire. While the singer confessed nervousness because it was only their second show, one couldn’t tell by their performance. They were my personal surprise of the night. A solid blend of rock, electronic, trance, punk, progressive, and soft rock—the band played a decent set with few mistakes. The singer is great at what he does, as displayed during songs where he just belted out some raw emotion, and then switched to a soft croon that sounded completely opposite.
The following opener, Dawn Golden and Rosy Cross, consisted of one guy in front of a bunch of electronic equipment that I cannot begin to name. I recognized a laptop and a sampling board, but I’m sure there were other gizmos affixed to his giant control panel. Still, he used it to his advantage and delivered some good music. It was a progressive, electronic, trance fusion, with just a bit of rock and hip-hop tossed in for flavor. Using seemingly random sounds and thuds, he would suddenly blend a song together and all the pieces made sense. While vocals were pretty much absent, they didn’t seem to be missed. The meaning of a song was extended purely through sound. A notable exception was one of the last songs, in which he started this high-pitched screaming that I didn’t even realize was him at first. It doesn’t sound like something that would belong in electronic music, but this guy proved that everything can sound good if done right. The crowd seemed to agree with me, for he received lengthy applause at the end of his set.
Since the crowd was already near-frenzy status, Chino’s appearance on the stage drew immediate screams and whistles and clapping from the ground. Bursting into the first song, my first thought was how much more energetic they sounded live as opposed to on their EPs. Live, they are faster and more aggressive sounding; the presence of two drummers doubles this. Two of the other members usually mess around with sampling while they occasionally play guitar, while the bassist stayed on his instrument, and was just as animated as Chino. Behind them, three bright-colored crosses flashed on-and-off, glittering magenta, pink, turquoise, and other such vividness.
One interesting thing was the fact that Chino seemed nervous. This is a guy that’s performed at hundreds of shows in front of thousands of people; why should he feel any anxiety? I’m not sure, but his fears were probably assuaged once he saw the crowd’s reaction to the set list and the performance itself. This held truth for both the more upbeat and drop-dead-slow songs. While some of it sounded like a jazzy, electronic Deftones, their slower bits reminded me of Team Sleep. That’s not to say Chino isn’t doing anything different in this band; his voice sounds cleaner and better than I’ve ever heard him, and the overall music seems to come together like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a creative mix, though not too complicated, and that makes it appealing to people; guys, this a band you want to take your girl to see, trust me. Their atmospheric style enveloped couples all throughout the crowd.
While there was really nothing wrong with their music, I always found myself wondering what was real music and what wasn’t—as in, which sounds were played using instruments and which were produced electronically? I could never tell and that bothered me at times. While this can also be said for the other bands, I didn’t see anybody use their instruments less than some members of (Crosses) did. This isn’t really a bad thing; it just may not appeal to everybody. It is true, however, that their sound compliments Chino’s voice, and visa-versa. I have no doubt that they will have continued success (unless they break up or hiatus for who knows how long; we all know how finicky Chino seems to be with bands).
Shows at The Glass House are usually pretty good, and this one was no exception. The three acts have a similar, yet markedly unique sound—together, they created a short tour (only four dates). Try and catch one, you may not get another chance to see (Crosses) live!
Words: Jeremy Bigelow
Photography: Ciera Leisenfelder
Click through the photo gallery below for more photos of ††† (Crosses).